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Media 93: MSM downplays Britain’s role in the latest Yemeni killing & the BBC omits UN experts’ charge

Today, the BBC reports that UN Group of Regional and International Eminent Experts on Yemen will present a report to the UN Human Rights Council next month. It says that the experts believe war crimes may have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

Yemeni government forces, the Saudi-led coalition backing them, and the rebel Houthi movement have made little effort to minimise civilian casualties and there have been attacks on residential areas in which thousands have died. The warring parties are also accused of arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and recruiting children.

But the BBC failed to mention that the Group of Experts’ report notes that coalition air strikes have caused most direct civilian casualties. The airstrikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities.

Yemenis dig graves for children in the wake of the latest air strike

Lest we forget, the remote-sounding Saudi-led coalition is supported by UK arms sales (including cluster bombs manufactured in the UK) and technical assistance.  British military personnel are complicit – deployed in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, giving access to lists of targets.

The Saudi-led coalition struck last Wednesday and Thursday. Following the attacks on Wednesday, four families in northwestern Yemen, who had decided to leave their homes to avoid such danger, were in a vehicle when airstrikes hit again.

Though Britain’s mainstream media fully reported the killings of 9th August, a search finds no reference to those on the 24th.

CNN did full justice to this atrocity, recalling also that earlier this month, a Saudi-led airstrike hit a school bus carrying scores of boys in Yemen. The attack killed 51 people, including 40 children, according to the Health Ministry. CNN has established that the bomb used in that attack was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defence contractors.

CNN adds: “There have been growing calls in the US Congress for Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, to do more to prevent civilian deaths in Yemen, where three years of conflict have taken a terrible toll”.

The latest news: yesterday, Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent, reports that the Pentagon has issued a warning to Saudi Arabia that it is prepared to reduce military and intelligence support for its campaign against rebels in neighbouring Yemen if the Saudis don’t demonstrate they are attempting to limit civilian deaths in airstrikes – adding “It is not clear if President Donald Trump, who views the Saudis as an essential ally, would agree to a reduction of support”.

 

But, like the proverbial three monkeys, the failing British government hears, sees and speaks no evil.

 

 

 

 

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General Election 2017 – Peace Policies and Foreign Follies

People in Iraq, Libya and Yemen are desperate for strong and stable government. Theresa May is partly why they don’t have it, says Steve Beauchampé.

The General Election campaign has returned after last week’s brief hiatus and with it a volley of unedifying Conservative attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s historic support for a united Ireland and the Palestinian people, highlighting the most tenuous of links and associations.

Yet serious examination of Jeremy Corbyn’s activism shows him to have been on the right side of history and ahead of mainstream public opinion time and again, standing up for anti-racist and anti-apartheid causes, refugees and asylum seekers, gender equality, the LGBT community, environmental issues, animal rights and the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and self-expression long before such things gained widespread acceptance. Perhaps not surprising then that when you campaign in support of so many marginalised groups and outsider causes that you will from time to time encounter those whose frustrations and sense of powerlessness has led them to step outside of the law.

As regards Irish republicanism Corbyn’s attempts to achieve conflict resolution through dialogue may at times have been naive, but were his actions so dissimilar to the approach adopted around the same time by MI5 and later by John Major, both of whom ultimately realised that a decades-old conflict, whose death toll was inexorably rising, could not be won solely by military means?

But whilst Jeremy Corbyn’s peripheral rôle in the republican cause has been (and continues to be) pored over and examined by his opponents half a lifetime later, the record and judgement of Theresa May with regard to much more recent UK military interventions requires equally forensic scrutiny given her claims to be a fit and proper person to lead Britain.

And frankly, history’s judgement on this aspect of Theresa May is unlikely to be generous. After first being elected an MP in 1997, she voted in favour of the 2003 invasion of Iraq (having already supported the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in the frenzied post-9/11 atmosphere). Like so many of her colleagues on the opposition Conservative benches at the time, May failed to hold the Blair government to account despite the widely expressed caution of many experts over both the reasons for going to war and the lack of a post-conflict plan to stabilise Iraq. Instead, May limply and dutifully gave her support.

What followed for Iraqis has been almost fifteen years of societal breakdown throughout large parts of this once architectural, cultural and scholastic gem of a nation, with swathes of land occupied until recently by Islamic State and a fracturing of the country along religious, sectarian and tribal lines in a way that will be hard, if not impossible, to heal.

By 2011, and as the then Home Secretary in the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government, Theresa May backed the Anglo/Franco-led military action in Libya, which despite its billing as merely creating a no-fly zone to protect civilians and rebel fighters, mainly located in the east of the country, quickly escalated into regime change, culminating in the overthrow and lynching of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Again, as a senior government minister Theresa May ignored warnings that historic tribal divisions, the absence of a strong and stable government or a long-term strategic plan would quickly fracture the country.

Six years on and Libya exists in little more than name only. There is no central government, armed militias and feudal warlords hold considerable power, whilst every international Islamist terror group of substance now boasts a flourishing branch office in the country from where they increasingly export their murderous ideologies. And every month, if not every week, scores of desperate migrants, people who long ago lost all control of their lives, drown off the Libyan coast whilst seeking something better than the hell that their lives have spiralled into.

Learning nothing from history and the consequences of her own actions, in August 2013 Theresa May supported Prime Minster David Cameron’s unsuccessful attempt to persuade MPs to back UK air strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The absence yet again of a coherent post-conflict strategy was sufficient for Labour leader Ed Miliband to refuse his party’s support to Cameron, who narrowly lost a House of Commons vote on the issue. The main beneficiaries of such an intervention, with its intention to downgrade Assad’s military capabilities (if not to remove him from power), would likely have been the plethora of extremist groups engaged in the Syrian civil war, principal amongst them the then nascent Islamic State.

Since becoming Prime Minister Theresa May has continued the supply of British made weapons and military expertise to Saudi Arabia for use in its war crime-strewn bombing campaign in Yemen, a campaign which has killed countless numbers of civilians and is fast creating yet another failed state in the region.

Iraq, Libya and increasingly Yemen: countries where British military interventions have created power vacuums swiftly filled by a combination of anarchy, lawlessness, violence and economic depravation, with catastrophic consequences and relentless, unending misery for millions of civilians.

Theresa May supported each and every one of these military interventions. Jeremy Corbyn opposed all of them. So whose judgement would you trust?   

May 29th 2017

Written for The BirminghamPress.com

 

 

 

 

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Russia? Boris, Andrew: our government continues to aid or participate in killing civilians & suspects in several countries

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has said that Russia is in danger of becoming a “pariah nation” if it continues to bomb civilian targets in Syria – is he absent -minded or hypocritical?

As Steve Schofield summarises, “Through invasion by ground forces and through air-strikes involving missiles and drones, the US/UK military axis has been responsible for the collapse of societies that has left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead or injured and millions more as refugees.

children-drone-killed

For years we have assaulted other countries, ruining infrastructure and killing civilians as well as untried suspects; a few examples:

  • The FT in 2013 highlighted a report by Amnesty International which concluded that at least 19 civilians in North Waziristan had been killed by just two drone attacks. In July 18 casual labourers, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed near the Afghan border.
  • The Bureau of Investigation’s 2014 report: America’s drone war has secretly escalated; it noted that it took President Obama three years to publicly refer to his use of drones.
  • In this period Bureau records show drones reportedly killed at least 236 civilians – including 61 children. And according to a leaked CIA record of drone strikes, seen by the McClatchy news agency, the US often did not know who it was killing. In the year after September 2010 at least 265 of up to 482 people killed by drones ‘were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists’.
  • Agence France Presse reported from Afghanistan: Afghan officials said that a NATO airstrike Friday killed five civilians and wounded six others. District governor Mohammad Amin said, “At around 3:30 a.m., U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Aab Josh village of Baraki Barak district. The airstrike hit a residential house killing five and wounding six civilians”. Niaz Mohammad Amiri, Logar province’s acting governor, added, “U.S. forces were chasing down Taliban militants, but mistakenly bombarded a house. As a result, civilians were victims of the attack”.
  • Edward Luce in the FT pointed out that there is no treaty governing the use of military drones as for the use of nuclear weapons. We summarised his article with added links to Rand Corporation and Stimson Centre.
  • For almost ten years the Central Intelligence Agency has been able to strike targets with impunity. At the moment, Barack Obama orders drone assassinations without having to admit it, or explain himself to anyone. Hundreds of militants have been killed in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere. But hundreds more civilians, perhaps thousands, have also been accidentally killed.
  • Josie Ensor’s report from Istanbul says that a US air strike killed nearly 60 civilians, including children, in Syria after the coalition mistook them for Islamic State fighters. Some eight families were hit as they tried to flee in one of the single deadliest strikes on civilians by the alliance since the start of its operations in the war-torn country.
  • A Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a hospital operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres in northern Yemen, killing at least 11 people and wounding 19, the aid group said. And who is in the coalition? US and Britain have been deploying their military personnel in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, having access to lists of targets.
  • The global charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) told Reuters news agency that more than 40 civilians, including an eight-year-old in critical condition, were admitted to Abs Hospital after an air strike in the Mustaba district, a region largely controlled by the Iran-allied Houthi militia.

stwc-logoStuart Richardson, Secretary of the Birmingham branch, offers the sanest contribution from Stop the War Coalition (StWC). StWC is opposing the calls for the implementation of “No-Fly Zones” – after the Libyan disaster – and calls for the bombing of the Assad regime by the RAF and allied air forces. It argues that the only solution is the withdrawal of Russia, US, UK and France leaving the Syrian people to determine their own future.

 

 

 

Now thrive the armourers: unrepentant ‘special friends’, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United States

Cluster-Bombs-3418-2

Though cluster bombs were banned under international law in 2008, Amnesty International has found a UK-manufactured cluster bomb in Yemen and, according to Defense News, the United States has sold Riyadh cluster bombs and millions of dollars’ worth of training, information gathering, weapons and aerial refuelling support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

The International Business Times reports that for over a year, Human Rights Watch has recorded attacks on Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, killing civilians and destroying homes, schools and hospitals. They have used cluster bombs, which scatter explosive ‘bomblets’ across a wide area and eject a stream of molten metal designed to pierce metal armour as they detonate. After this, they explode into thousands of fragments killing and maiming all in the vicinity. If they don’t explode on impact, they become a danger to civilians on the ground. More on the technology here.

Amnesty International calls on the British government, which has rejected claims that the Saudi Arabian-led coalition has violated the laws of war during its conflict in Yemen:

  • to stop the UK selling arms to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that could be used in the Yemen conflict;
  • to launch an immediate inquiry into how UK cluster bombs ended up in Yemen and
  • to ensure the Saudi Arabia-led coalition destroys all remaining stocks of UK cluster munitions.

Has the Obama administration blocked sales of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia?

A few days later, Defense News and many other media outlets reported that the Obama administration has moved to block sales of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, amid reports of mounting civilian casualties there. However no link was given and a search for the report in the named journal Foreign Policy found no reference on its site.

(Update, reader Felicity Arbuthnot found a link in another sticle: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/27/exclusive-white-house-blocks-transfer-of-cluster-bombs-to-saudi-arabia – subscription only).

This move is said to follow rising criticism by U.S. lawmakers of America’s support for Saudi Arabia’s role in the year-long Yemeni conflict – not because of concern about the civilian casualties and infrastructure damage inflicted, but, it is alleged, due to increasing disappointment at the Saudis’ failure to do more to fight the militants of the Islamic State group in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

 

 

 

Political loyalties: EU or USA? The red carpet treatment wins the day

cameron red carpet muscat

Saudi Arabia, with Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan led a gulf coalition airstrike against Yemen in March. The Obama administration is supporting the Saudi-led air war with intelligence, air refueling operations and expediting weapons deliveries and other crucial support.

Today a Moseley reader draws our attention to the news reported by the Guardian that – eager to follow suit – David Cameron has extolled the ‘defence’ products made by BAE Systems and assured the company that every effort would be made by the UK government to support the selling of their equipment to Saudi Arabia, Oman and other countries.

This, despite the European parliament’s vote in favour of an EU-wide ban on arms being sold to Saudi Arabia in protest at its heavy aerial bombing of Yemen, which has been condemned by the UN.

According to a BBC report, Houthis – aka Shiite Muslim rebels – are seeking change from weak governance, corruption, resource depletion and poor infrastructure, unemployment, high food prices, limited social services and large-scale displacement.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have taken to the streets of the capital, Sana’a, to voice their anger at the Saudi invasion.

yemen bombing

Death and destruction: the fruits of Saudi, UK, USA labour

 

“Has the Government adopted a ‘Kill Policy’ in secret – without Parliamentary debate?

Thanks to a Moseley reader for the two leads.

The Argus reports that MP Caroline Lucas and Jenny Jones (now in the Lords) are calling for answers on whether the Government has formulated a targeted policy and if so, what that policy is, and whether it is legal. Supported by human rights charity Reprieve and law firm Leigh Day, they are highlighting the lack of parliamentary approval for the Government’s adoption of the American style programme.

A Letter Before Action (LBA) was sent to the firm on behalf of the MP and the baroness highlighting a lack of consistency in justifications for the strikes and a lack of transparency.

Caroline Lucas said: “The Government appears to have adopted a ‘Kill Policy’ in secret –without Parliamentary debate or the prospect of proper independent scrutiny.

drone firing missilesSanctioning lethal drone attacks on British citizens is a significant departure from previous policy, as well as potentially unlawful, and it’s deeply concerning that it has occurred without appropriate oversight. By refusing to publish the legal basis for these attacks, the Government has created a legal and accountability vacuum. We need to be able to determine whether the attacks – and what they signify in terms of Government policy – meet the robust conditions set out in international and domestic law.”

us coalition strike kobani syriaUS coalition air-strike on Kobani, Syria

They point out that the war will be carried out with the cruellest, most destructive and strategically most useless of weapons, the airborne bomb which is “now the all-purpose totemic answer to ‘something must be done’.

The futility of such interventions in Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq again and Libya is pointed out by Simon Jenkins. He writes:

“There is no evidence of the drones’ strategic effectiveness. The killing of Pashtun militants has done nothing to halt the Taliban’s path back to power in Afghanistan. It has merely replaced possibly moderate elders with tribal hot-heads. Obama’s first drone attack in Yemen killed one al-Qaida suspect, 14 women and 21 children.

children drone killed

“In a six-year period to 2011 an estimated 3,000 innocents were killed in Pakistan alone, including 176 children. Such casual slaughter would have an infantry unit court-martialled and jailed. Drones are immune.

“For the past year, the skies over Syria and Iraq have seen the most devastating deployments of air power in recent times. There have been a reported 6,000 coalition air strikes, manned and unmanned. Some 20,000 bombs have been dropped.

“If ever in the past quarter century there was a clear humanitarian case for intervening to pacify, reorder and restore good governance to a failed state, it must be in Syria. Dropping bombs is politically cosmetic. It is trying to look good to a domestic audience; a cruel delusion, a pretence of humanity, ostentatious, immoral, stupid”.

As the plight of migrants from destabilised countries dominates the media, our other special friend inflicts a far higher death toll

Will Saudi Arabia’s financial ‘strains’ end their devastation of Yemen?

In June a barrage of news accumulated about Saudi Arabia, aka Britain’s biggest arms market last year, and a brief overview of the last quarter was given on this site.

The Saudi regime is killing thousands and destroying key infrastructure in Yemen - in order to ’protect’ it.

The Saudi regime is killing thousands and destroying key infrastructure in Yemen – in order to ’protect’ it.

A month later, Fahad al-Mubarak, the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, said in that Riyadh had issued its first $4bn in local bonds. Simeon Kerr and Anjli Raval of the FT see the country’s plan to raise $27bn by the end of the year, as the “starkest sign yet of the strain lower oil prices are putting on the finances of the world’s largest oil exporter”. They add:

“Saudi Arabia’s resort to further domestic borrowing highlights the challenges facing the region’s largest economy amid one of the steepest falls in the oil price in recent decades”.

Economists estimate their deficit will reach SR400bn this year amid falling revenues and spending commitments, including the continuing war in Yemen. Detail here.

Earlier this month the Telegraph surmised that Saudi Arabia might ‘go broke’ before the US oil industry buckles. It quotes the CIA explanation for this aggressive, destructive behaviour:

“The Saudi royal family is leading the Sunni cause against a resurgent Iran, battling for dominance in a bitter struggle between Sunni and Shia across the Middle East. “Right now, the Saudis have only one thing on their mind and that is the Iranians. They have a very serious problem. Iranian proxies are running Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon,” said Jim Woolsey, the former head of the US Central Intelligence Agency”.

Update, destruction and death dealing unabated:

Yesterday, Ben Norton reported that approximately 4,500 people, many civilians, have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led coalition began bombing 150 days ago, according to the UN. 23,000 more have been wounded.

13 Yemeni teaching staff and four children were killed by a Saudi air strike on August 20. Two days before, coalition bombing in the Amran province took the lives of 17 civilians, injuring 20 more. UNICEF condemned what it called the “senseless bloodshed.” A Red Cross spokeswoman said the violence in Ta’iz, in southern Yemen, in just one day on August 21 left 80 people dead.

To our shame and theirs, with weapons bought from Britain and other arms dealers and troops also trained by their allies, the Saudis continue to lay Yemen waste.

Saudi Arabia: another special friend of whom Britain should be ashamed

Several posts on this site about Britain’s ‘special friend’ have referred to the United States of America. Today seeing a barrage of news accumulating about another special friend, Saudi Arabia, aka Britain’s biggest arms market last year, an overview of the last quarter follows.

At the closing session of a two-day Arab League summit held in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt’s president el-Sisi announced that some Arab leaders had agreed to form a united military force to combat the “challenges” the region is facing. A high-level panel would work under the supervision of Arab chiefs of staff to work out the structure and mechanism of the force: roughly 40,000 elite troops, backed by jets, warships and light armour.

saudi tanks

At the time, a Saudi-led coalition was already pressing ahead with air strikes against positions of Houthi fighters and their allies in Yemen. The United States voiced support for the intervention and sent two warships to assist with the naval blockade, but it was criticised by the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations. Saudi Arabia had been moving heavy equipment and artillery near its border with Yemen, following the Houthis seizure of the central city of Taiz.

A month later FT View described this ongoing military action as ‘an increasingly aggressive proxy war with Iran in the Middle East, backing Sunni regimes and trying to counter Iranian influence in Syria, Iraq and Bahrain. Several months of war in Yemen have already claimed more than 2,000 lives. The FT writer’s advice:

“[T]he Saudi leadership should think again. In Yemen, Riyadh has given a brutal demonstration of its air power and marshalled a range of Arab nations to back its effort. But air strikes have not weakened the Houthis and a political settlement remains beyond reach. Nor has Saudi Arabia much cause for celebration in its fight against Iran across the region. The kingdom can claim some victories, notably the return of a military-backed government in Cairo. But its lavish funding of proxies has not yielded stability in Syria, Iraq or Libya”.

saudi naval blockadeOn May 10th the FT Review reported that the UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen said that “indiscriminate bombing” contravened international humanitarian law, but Riyadh says the naval blockade was ordered by the legitimate Yemeni government of President Abd Rabbu Hadi — in exile in Riyadh — and cited a UN Security Council resolution calling for an arms embargo against the Houthis.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been described as “catastrophic” by the UN with 20 million civilians – 80% of the population – in need of aid. In May and June there were accounts of the suffering caused by the Saudi-led blockade of the country in place since late March, which has nearly exhausted:

  • dwindling supplies of fuel, staples such as rice, medicines and other basic goods are so scarce in north Yemen that prices have risen as much as tenfold, according to Oxfam
  • fuel shortages, which pose a grave threat to Yemen’s water and electricity supplies, as well as to its transport network.

On June 7th the BBC reported that peace talks between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and the government will take place in Geneva on 14 June. UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on all parties to enter the talks in good faith and without pre-conditions. Its Middle East Editor, Sebastian Usher, says that the government – now mostly in exile in Saudi Arabia – and the rebels have confirmed that they will attend the peace negotiations.

But as Owen Jones says, after giving a devastating account of brutality and injustice, such allies “are up to their necks in complicity with terrorism, but as long as there is money to be made and weapons to sell, our rulers’ lips will remain stubbornly sealed”.

 

Nelson Mandela: Clinton, Obama, Bush, Blair, Cameron, tributes of shameful hypocrisy

george bush etc felicity

Felicity Arbuthnot opens:

Nelson Mandela’s life included violence and controversy but he “walked the walk” paying the price of twenty seven years in jail for the racial equality he fought for South Africa. For all the country’s complexities, imperfections and astonishing betrayals, the concept of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission surely averted a cycle of vengeance which would have dwarfed the country’s continuing turbulence.

In death, however, he has uniquely highlighted the monumental paucity of integrity, intelligence, introspection and vision of a swathe of Western politicians.

Prime Minister David Cameron led the session reminding all: 

“We must never forget the evil of apartheid and its effect on every day life . . .”

He might ponder on his words when he, his Foreign Secretary or party members next jet off on a Conservative Friends of Israel junket to that apartheid state, which behaves as he described, additionally seizing lands, demolishing homes . . .

President Obama’s address was a masterpiece of oiled humbug:

” … while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better.  He speaks to what is best inside us . . . We can choose to live in… a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice … ”

The previous day, missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed at least three people travelling in a car in eastern Yemen. Two days later, seventeen people in a convoy heading for a wedding party were killed, ten instantly, seven dying shortly afterwards and in differing reports, between five and twenty two remain seriously injured. The President, it is reported, personally signs off on these obscenities, weekly.

On hearing of the death of Mandela, Bill Clinton tweeted: “I will never forget my friend Madiba.” 

An instant response was: “Then why was he on the US Terrorist Watch List during your Presidency?” 

George W. Bush said: “President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time … our world is better off because of his example”

But Nelson Mandela condemned George Bush as: “. . . a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust. … If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care.” (30th January 2003.)

For Tony Blair, the Memorial was, as ever, a business opportunity . . .

(added) before the ceremony he said: “Nelson Mandela was someone who brought out the best in people”

But it is reported that Nelson Mandela felt so betrayed by Tony Blair’s decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq that he launched a tirade against him in a phone call to Peter Hain, who was a government minister. Hain said Mandela was “breathing fire” down the line in protest at the 2003 military action. The trenchant criticisms were made in a formal call to the minister’s office, not in a private capacity, and Blair was informed of what had been said.#

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/19-12-2013/126435-mandela_cameron-0/
http://stopwar.org.uk/news/r-i-p-nelson-mandela-18-july-1918-5-december-2013#.UrNaHiee8fE
http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/alerts-2013/750-the-media-s-hypocritical-oath-mandela-and-economic-apartheid.html
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Will the British government have to choose between two ‘special friends’?

Saudi security analyst: “We are learning from our enemies now how to treat the United States”

WSJ logo

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Saudi government has made no public comment so far on the phone call between U.S. President Barack Obama, whose country Saudi Arabia sees as the main military protector of its interests, and new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, whose country Saudi Arabia sees as its main threat.

Its journalist, Ellen Knickmeyer, alleges that Sunni-dominated Gulf Arab governments, especially Saudi Arabia, fear that Shiite-ruled Iran wants to use Shia populations in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen to destabilize Gulf Arab governments and try to throw the regional balance of power toward Iran.

Saudi Arabia wanted to do more to boost the power of armed Sunni rebel groups on the ground in Syria but the U.S. declared Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra to be a terrorist organization, while many in the Gulf consider the rebel faction to be a legitimate, predominantly Syrian fighting force against Mr. Assad.

prince saud al faisalPrince Saud al Faisal, speaking to the Friends of Syria group, a coalition of Western and Gulf Arab countries and Turkey, said that Saudi Arabia wants “intensification of political, economic and military support to the Syrian opposition . . . to change the balance of powers on the ground” in Syria.

Ms Knickmeyer reports that the state-run Saudi Press Agency carries a transcript of his remarks.

The Gulf Research Center

The Geneva-based Gulf Research Center is said to ‘maintain cooperation agreements’ with major partners such as Emirates Bank, Shell, Glaxo Smith Kline, the University of Queensland, the Saudi Arabian Marketing and Agencies Company (SAMACO) group, Pakistan’s National Defence College and the FRIDE Foundation.

mustafa alani gulf researchEllen Knickmeyer  reports that Dr Mustafa Alani, Saudi security analyst and Senior Advisor and Director of the National Security and Terrorism Studies Department at the Gulf Research Center, said that Saudis now feel that the Obama administration is disregarding Saudi concerns over Iran and Syria, and will respond accordingly in ignoring “U.S. interests, U.S. wishes, U.S. issues” in Syria:  “They are going to be upset—we can live with that. We are learning from our enemies now how to treat the United States.”

Saudi leverage

Gulf security analysts are reported to have said that Saudi and other Gulf Arab countries have little leverage to advance their aims in any U.S.-Iran diplomacy. Michael Stephens, researcher at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in Qatar, is quoted as saying that Saudis have only a few other means, such as directing more of their arms or energy deals to Asia.

In an ill-judged article by John Stanton (October 30’s English edition of Pravda), he asked, “Why does the world’s most powerful nation bow down before the House of Saud even as it becomes less dependent on Persian Gulf and Saudi oil?”

Other commentators are now saying that the American administration now evidently does feel freer to act, now that its new energy resources have been developed.

Read the full article here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303643304579104910000148876.html

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